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Abandoned hive - but it's still kicking!

Framingham, MA(Zone 6a)

Hi beekeepers!
A local beekeeper has been keeping a hive in my backyard orchard for a couple of years and it's been doing well. However, it seems as if he's got a full time job that takes him far far away (last contact I had with him, he was in Japan!). He has not been able to come by as often as he used to to care for the bees. They swarmed off twice, but still appear to be thriving. I did get him to come over and put another super on, but I haven't seen him since mid-June.

Now winter is almost over and the bees are starting to come out of the hive more and more as the weather improves. I've read that this is a crucial time for them as they may be at the end of their honey stores.

Is there anything I can do the 1)help keep the bees alive until spring officially gets here and 2) do without a veil and bee suit and other tools?
We have a pond with unfrozen water and I've even seen the bees in the compost patch, so I know they are getting around.

I really enjoy having them here and if I can ever get in touch with my absent beekeeper again, I'm going to try to buy the hive off him since he's not here to take care of it anyway...
Thank you all for your suggestions.

Arcade, NY(Zone 5a)

Join a bee club. Start reading books. buy videos on beekeeping. plenty of good forums to get more information. The book I recommend now is beekeeping for dummies. I checked my hives yesterday. the girls are starting to get active.

Framingham, MA(Zone 6a)

Hi Ray!
We are starting Bee School on Thursday! The girls are really moving around lately - temps are in the mid 40's. Snow on the horizon for later this week though. Hopefully we'll be able to put a second hive in our yard. I do really enjoy watching them do their thing.

Arcade, NY(Zone 5a)

You should be able to split your hive once the drones start flying. get yourself a new queen for your new hive. I have two hives now. I plan to expand to 5 hives with my stock. The weather has been in the 40s the last two days here. I love this hobby.

Lexington, OH(Zone 5b)

Bee school sounds great! I haven't read the "dummies" book, but I just finished "Backyard Beekeeping" by Kim Flottum, which was fascinating and geared to beginners. I recommend it, particularly if you are interested in comparing natural vs chemical treatments.

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